Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Proposed Program

A large part of the Marshall Application process is identifying an academic program in the United Kingdom and providing your rationale for studying there.  Below is more information about the two degree programs I will be pursuing.
"Give me a lever, a place to stand, and I will move the world." 
In academia, I have found my place to stand.  But I am going to need a lever.
As I began searching for graduate programs, I faced the same infuriating dilemma that plagues my undergraduate thesis work: No one is looking at food security in the Middle East.  The perfect academic program does not exist for me, because adequate attention to the issue does not exist.  However, the University of East Anglia is well known as a center for sustainable development research and instruction.  Its programs bridge environmental and geographic studies with public policy and international development.  The Master of Science in Water Security and International Development, under the direction of Dr. Mark Zeitoun, intentionally seeks to understand "water security" in its broadest meaning, as it affects and is affected by climate change, food trade, food security, energy security, and military security.  Mark and I have been in e-mail discussion and believe the program, with its focus on the broader concerns of political ecology and Mark's expertise in Middle Eastern water concerns (inextricably connected to food distribution and justice), is the best fit for me. Courses such as "Water Security Theory and Concepts," "Water Security Tools and Policy," "Globalised Agriculture and Food Systems," and "Political Ecology of Environment & Development,” will prepare me to focus explicitly on food and water issues in the Middle East and North Africa during an end-of-program dissertation.
After gaining a deeper understanding of geographic realities in the Middle East and North Africa and the intricate connections between food and water security through the MSc at UEA, the Master of Science in Nature, Society and Environmental Policy at Oxford University will allow me to focus on governance.  Core courses will explore international environmental law, policy-making, and research methodologies.  Electives such as "Climate Change Diplomacy" and "International Economic Integration" will allow me to explore issues of regional environmental integration, something I believe to be critical to the success of food and water security in the Middle East and North Africa.  A second dissertation will allow me to expand my environmentally focused dissertation from UEA to a politically focused proposal and help highlight possible topics for a doctoral thesis.  Oxford frequently works with students to appointment additional thesis supervisors from external institutions; this will give me the opportunity to continue formal mentorship with Mark Zeitoun while taking advantage of the additional resources Oxford University and the surrounding community have to offer.
Seriously impacting issues of food and water security in the Middle East and North Africa will require knowledge of geography, public policy, agriculture, economics, environmental studies, and peace and justice studies.  The University of East Anglia’s expertise in sustainable development combined with Oxford University’s history as a world leader in environmental issues and international relations will provide me with this knowledge.  With these institutions' help, I can create my lever.  And with it, I will move the world.

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